tv Cross Talk RT April 19, 2013 8:29am-9:00am EDT
choose the consensus. choose. the great. choose the stories that if you. choose. to. follow unwelcome across the uk we're all things are considered i'm peter lavelle every year the us spends hundreds of billions of dollars to defend real or imagined foreign enemies as the largest national security state in the world it would appear america's greatest enemies are among its own citizens there's been a staggering increase in the number of radical right wing movements over the past
few years is the us fighting the wrong war on terrorism. to cross out the rise of right wing extremism in america i'm joined by my guests in washington and she is a writer and commentator on national security and we also have allan lichtman he is a distinguished professor of history at the american university and author of white protestant nation cross-talk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want is the united states fighting the wrong war on terrorism. well let's put it this way it may not be fighting the wrong war but it's not fighting a nuff wars indeed since nine eleven there has been more carnage in the united states from right wing extremists then there have been from foreign terrorists and there has been just minimal attention on the danger of homegrown terrorism as compared to the danger of international terrorism and of course we know homegrown
terrorism has been with us for a very long time we should never forget of course the bombing of the federal building in oklahoma city in one nine hundred ninety five when that first happened everyone assumed oh my god it must be arab terrorists out of course it was homegrown terrorists associated with the far right wing militia movements the problem is it's much much more difficult to deal with domestic terrorism than foreign terrorism law well and why is that. and why is a greater civil liberties is that the reason well. exactly you're dealing with civil rights you're dealing with civil liberties and there's no central direction here you're dealing with diverse movements from the militia movements to remnants of the ku klux klan to extremist every in brotherhood in prisons you're dealing with former military people who are well trained and know the system so the
enemy is well armed it's scattered and sometimes very well trained amy do you want to jump in there you agree with alan sorry i mean. i very much do i mean i think if you go back to the one nine hundred ninety s. and in a funny way nine eleven those attacks in september two thousand and one were an interruption and what had been a trend in the one nine hundred ninety s. we had waco ridge and ruby ridge and the waco branch davidian. then but what did happen in the two thousand is that some of the. is that feelings surrounding what had happened in two thousand and one and the rise in islamophobia and fear of foreigners. makes ten to a certain degree to the right wing. homegrown if you well. movements here in the united states and what is driving it now because there's
a huge political ration of groups real fast extreme right wing groups have always been with us of course we had slavery for a hundred years then we had white supremacy and the terribly repressive system of jim crow in the south in the one nine hundred twenty s. the ku klux klan had three to five million members in the one nine hundred thirty s. of course we had numerous groups modeling themselves on fascists in europe so this is not new but there has been an upsurge in recent years i think it is absolutely tied if not entirely due to the election of an afro-american president many of these groups i would say most of them are pinched with racism and obviously this is a spur and an impetus to them and the tea party movement well not violent in and of itself but it's the rhetoric of it but its rhetoric it can regenerate its rhetoric it can be very explosive though. the tea party had or it can always be explosive absolutely the tea party's rhetoric did verge on extremism certainly not
blaming the tiepolo for any upsurge of right wing violence but you know there are some some suggestive inspiration here amy you want to jump in there go ahead yeah well let me i mean actually obama is a great example of the way in which there was an intersection between what happened after nine what happened in nine eleven and over the two thousand it's not only that obama is african-american although i think that that's important but it was also he's also viewed by right wing groups as a foreigner and there's some suspicion right that he wasn't even born in this country there's an entire segment dedicated to proving that he's not. so i do think that there's a shift. over the course of the last decade. folded into these other grievances that these groups have only because they come from the right to be tolerated more exactly but let me add one head to head i'm sorry let me add one thing quick and
that is the upsurge of agitation over immigration yeah that you know has been so strong in recent years is also a spur to right wing extremism they believe that whether it's african-americans all foreigners they're somehow diluting and polluting america's pure pioneer stock if that ever speech if that ever existed go ahead amy go ahead amy. yeah there's a very longstanding tension in this country i mean alan's already sort of alluded to it between the idea of the united states is a very inclusive in fact a nation of immigrants and this country has an exclusive one probably of white christians alan you would you agree with that yeah that that's. i completely agree with that and some of these groups of course take this notion of white christianity to an extreme tied into some of the extreme right wing movements
of something called the christian identity movement which has been around in america for a very long time since the early twentieth century and they have this crazy idea that the modern jews are not the hebrews of the bible but are a later group called up cause are those who converted to judaism and that in fact the hebrews of the bible are today's blue-eyed blond christians so they take you know the bible and they take history and completely inverted it for their own purposes and they believe that there is a coming race war that these phony jews are going to be leading their black minions against the true hebrews the white blonde blue eyed christians of today am in me is there anything you can do about those people and some like nuts to me. i think there are a couple of things actually i mean on one hand on the negative and there's law
enforcement and a certain and sort of neighborhood activity on the other hand i would actually say that we need to improve our education system i'll tell you why. the kind of thinking that leads to the conspiratorial sort of rigid manichean thinking that alan is referring to can be can be untrained i mean you need to be trained to be critical thinking critically thinking so i would actually say that our education system is a good place to start. incorporating everyone in my country legally do that socializing them and also training them ok alan what about the media we train them. well and amy yeah amy is absolutely right about education and there's really not much you can do about the media you know today it used to be you know a few newspapers and a few networks at the media and now it's twenty four seven it's the internet it's the tabloids it's tweets it's everything you know i certainly do not advocate
controlling the media but here's the real irony peter behind all this some of the ways in which we try to protect ourselves actually can boomerang and have this reverse effect of making things worse we are one of the most imprisoned societies in the world our incarceration rate is very close to the top of all nations in the world we have an extraordinary number of people in prison and the prisons are breeding grounds for this kind of right wing extremism so to the extent where imprisoning people to protect ourselves you may actually in some ways be undermining our security and of course there has been all of this fighting of wars the expansion of the military as we know a goodly number of these right wing extremists have military training by some estimates twenty percent of those implicated in right wing extremism have military training so i think it's a really important that we carefully screen those who we let into the military and
that we have military education on the importance of tolerance i don't think that. i would be really nice that would be really nice amy what do you think. tolerance. well the fact is that i have some engagement with professional military education and i can tell you that at its higher levels we not only train but educate an incredible array of. tolerant folks not only in the military but across across government agencies. it doesn't entirely lie in their education at least at the level that i have seen it strategists and leaders. but sure i'm going to deal with the higher level outsider as a straight of christian evangelism yeah i'll go ahead jump in. just to say we're not dealing really with the higher levels here it's not the people who get that
kind of education who are the prime recruits for the extreme right wing movements it's that the more. common level recruits who we have to worry about. it amy what about the media's role will change isn't what it what about the role of the media in all of this like fox t.v. and things like that. well there's an interesting i mean not only fox t.v. but also what has been really interesting is what happening on the internet i mean we hear a lot about what has happened with respect to internet recruiting with other groups in other countries but that holds true for the united states as well so there are two things and one is a very good recruitment and increasing capacity of people to communicate online with themselves and also a self reinforcing media culture that's both online and on the radio and on television where and people can increasingly kind of close their worlds down and
view and see only what they want to see and without being exposed to to other ideas so it's very easy for somebody with a vent or an interest in it or a right wing i'm going to jump in here i'm going to jump in here we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on extremism in america stay with. you we've. good laboratory was able to build most sophisticated robots which fortunately.
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and when will you know let's let's look at the issue of just people being disenchanted with the political system and the economy how much is that drive people into these groups you know it's very hard to say what drives individuals to join groups but certainly when you look at it overall there is a toxic mix here number one americans are overall very much disenchanted with their government used to be the vast majority of people believed that their government usually works in the interest of ordinary folks that's gone down serious extensionally the approval of congress is lower than that of attila the hun you know it's. no twenty percent throw away in a bad economy and that's a pretty bad mix also want to pick up something that amy said about about the media and you made the point as well you know there are a number of ways to become famous in america you could be
a big celebrity like brad pitt you can do wonderful things and win a nobel prize for example or commit some dastardly deed an assassination terrible bombing and that's a sad but very true fact in this probably not much we can do about it amy what do you think about that that's pretty sad then it's hard not to return to education and to looking for ways possibly from the top but hopefully also from the bottom encouraging communities that are. more inclusive in which people have contact with each other. possibly. broad trends in the economy are also important. but i'm not sure i mean there's a it was difficult in a way it seems like it's you know it's difficult what about the gun culture in america and violence is it more acceptable to be an extremist well. absolutely
groups are very much tied to the gun culture they're all firm believers in very extreme interpretations of the second amendment right basically should have any kind of weapon you want in there should be no limitations and they believe they have to arm themselves for a number of reasons that you know they think are true number one they believe the government is out to get them and they do cite incidents like the storming of the compound in waco texas that led to scores of deaths of the branch davidian or the shootings of the survivalists randy weaver is why the fact ruby ridge and many of them also believe that there was a coming race war in america or that there's going to be some kind of foreign invasion and we have to worry about that make a no the point though and this is a critical one you've got to walk a very fine line here in the one hand it's great to say we need a war on international terror or we need a war on domestic terror but number one those wars cannot be fully won you know
we're going to wipe out either international or domestic terror and two you've got to be careful about civil liberties yes we want to protect ourselves but we don't want to move to a police state amy what's the compromise how do you do it well this country has always been very good at letting people think what they want to think say what they want to say and then drawing limits when they move to action and i think the compromises actually are ready is already implicit in our system so to reinforce people's freedom of speech to reinforce their ability to think what they want to think and assess it with them they want to associate but not to. but not to harm others we have those lines exist we simply need to stand by them ok alan but i mean you know you have to keep an eye on these people don't soon i mean really. yeah when people become violent and commit
crimes and have propensity to commit crimes you absolutely have to keep an eye on them and you have to institute some degree of control but consistent with our civil liberties and civil rights we don't want to become mussolini's italy you know the trains ran on time but people had no liberties and you're talking about the gun culture and it just astounds me that the united states senate even in the wake of all of these recent tragedies could not even pass something as simple as back to universal background checks for those with criminal records and those with dangerous mental issues who would think that those people should have guns yet the united states senate is paralyzed ninety percent of the american people believe we ought to expand background checks and our political system isn't functioning until we get our political system really functioning again and really serving the interests of ordinary folks we're not going to do much about this problem at all i mean what do you think about the no political will right now well i don't disagree
i mean what it speaks to is the way in which some of these right wing thoughts have actually managed to infiltrate the mainstream political system and there's a very thoughtful border between them in some places one of them is definitely gun rights others are the ways in which people talk about the constitution or their personal rights absolutely and some of that is intentional as well on the part of their been afeard to sort of mainstream some of these ideas which if you look at them closely really are very radical in our system alan i find mainstream media is not as hard on extremists at all. no they're not as hard as you know that what bothers me about the mainstream media is somehow they think they need to be balanced you know that you've got to give all sides equal time equal airing and not make judgments i think a lot more judgment should be made and a lot more investigative reporting needs to be done we don't know
a whole lot the truth is the american people about these extreme right wing movements they know almost nothing and part of that is the failure of the media yes you'll have you know days of coverage on a tragedy like the bombings at the boston marathon but you don't have very much coverage at all and very much investigation at all of what's going on in the prisons what's going on with these extremist right wing groups and the ties for example between the n.r.a. and right wing extremism we don't hear about it because the media doesn't investigate it and doesn't cover it i mean do you agree with that it's not important until there's a bombing. yeah i do i mean there are a lot of pressures on the media and this is not an excuse of it but i mean watching the coverage of boston was incredible in certain respects they were immediate suggestions. that certain kinds of bombs reflected certain kinds of groups so long
before anything was said i mean think it's very interesting to watch the to watch the coverage this morning because i've been listening to the coverage of this explosion of the fertilizer plant near waco and actually i'm wondering if there has been some suggestion to some people in the media that they need to or within the law enforcement community that they need to stay far from doing anything except identifying that place as a crime scene before they know more because it would be very easy to leap to the conclusion that this isn't some sort of explosion in the out of or serie of waco ridge and i thought i thought about that what do you think about that and it was interesting it is the anniversary yeah yeah i thought about it you know one of the things i have to say is never ever jump to conclusions but the media does do that all of the time i mean does it do you does that i don't know what it is that interesting going to keep going on. yeah let me say this you know it's really i hate to say this but it's actually not that difficult to cover one of these big
tragedies which really really hard is doing the undercover and painstaking investigation of what goes on before one of these tragedies occurs that's difficult that takes a lot of resources and effort and energy and the media just isn't doing it and that's the real tragedy here when you when you think about media coverage of a right wing extremism i mean you want to jump in there. well no i mean we're the audience for that reporting so we need to figure out how to make ourselves as the audience people who are being receptive to that so that the media can you know why do they turn to what they turn to because that's what we turn to in part and in part i certainly think that they are projecting as well as you know receiving what we want but how do we become the kind of audience in this country that wants to watch exactly the kind of programming that alan's talking about which we watch these long. coverage of what is happening in our prisons and so forth.
i think that would get an audience i think you know it would be an eye opener for people what's going on in the prisons what's going on with the central texas militia or the empire state militia i think people would find that interesting and important they're just not getting it and you know the media has a certain i believe a certain social responsibility it is not simply in my view the job of the media which gets you know on money and gets a lot of government support as well to simply report the spectacular the titillating i think the media has a certain responsibility to get big beneath the skin of events and tell the american people what's really going on and when they don't do that i think the media is failing in its duty amy you would you agree in that the media is failing in its responsibilities. well to
a degree but i mean. there's the media and there's the media ok about large mainstream media which i think do have that responsibility and then we can talk about the way in which individuals at least in this country increasingly have the capacity to wall themselves off and get only the news that they want whether there's good reporting out there responsible out reporting out there or not and that's that's just a fact of the the way that broadcasting and and the online world work that we have to kind of figure out. over the course of the coming years i want if there's one thing that you'd like to see changes john that i'm going had just got one minute go ahead. and i think amy is right but i do think that the main newspapers the new york times the washington post the big television networks are still extremely important in setting the tone and the direction of the news candidates know that if they're not getting cut for example they're not getting
covered by those outlets the rest of it isn't going to be good enough so i do think it's really important what the mainstream media which has the resources to do this kind of investigation what they do with respect to right wing extremism in america all right we're done out of time fascinating discussion i want to thank you both many thanks my guests today in washington and thanks to the viewers for watching us here at r.t.c. the next time we member. technology
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a lockdown as huge a manhunt is underway to find a second man these are live pictures as police comb through the area locals are being warned to just stay at home and not to open their doors or to strangers. and the details emerge about the suspects background of their family moved to the u.s. in two thousand and two after a year in dagestan in russia's north caucasus they also believed to have previously lived in congress don or turkey. as five pm here in the russian capital you're watching r t live with us and me to one month say now the suspects are in the boston marathon bombings have been identified twenty six year old a time at la.